10 Tips On How to Boost Your Jiu Jitsu Style

Jiu Jitsu students, champions, enthusiasts and nerds alike often get into heated debates about the playing style of different athletes. While some swear by the explosiveness of Buchecha, there will be others who think the relentless attacks of Leandro Lo make for a better spectacle. Regardless of the debates, it is clear that all the top athletes and legends have one thing in common: they have style, they are unique and they rarely show discomfort even if caught in situations that don’t suit their primary plans.

So you are training hard and putting in the hours of the mat. But to rise above the rest, you need to boost your personal style that separates the good from the great. Fans and admirers are a given side effect too!

Here we take a look at some strategies that sound very sensible but we forget to implement them in a mad scramble to only train hard. They are also related to achieving a state of flow in Jiu Jitsu. Read our previous article on it.

STOP doing the things you are good at

This flies in the face of conventional wisdom: do one thing and do it well, practice one kick ten thousand times etc. Why? It will again kickstart your brain into concentrating hard and picking up new moves and attacks, making you as hungry as you were when you began training. Play from half guard if you are really good at maintaining the closed guard and try employing your attacks from there. The more your options, the better are your chances at winning.

Change your style

We all have preferences in our BJJ game that suit our body type and temperament. That is good and fine till you come up against the really good guys. Suddenly your preferences become your weaknesses. A heavyweight with a strong top game can crush your guard and you can’t even create space to do your favorite armbar. So don’t wait for such harsh experiences. If you are a guard passer also train equally hard to develop into a guardeiro. If you mostly do sneaky back takes from the bottom half guard, also train in some of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system’s sweeps and submission setups from that position. You know your game best, start noting down your preferences and how they might be blocking your progress.

Put yourself in uncomfortable positions

You have a good sweeping game. Carrying over the example of the heavyweight with a great pressure game, you might find them useless against him. Next time you roll, put yourself under the uncomfortable full mount that you always fight so hard to avoid. It doesn’t do you any harm if you let people mount you a few times while rolling, especially if you are already so good at not letting them. This will open up your mind to new techniques and tactics needed to escape from under the full mount, so you don’t get caught by surprise the next time it happens.

Spar with the best

You should be hungry for learning more and the only way you learn really, really fast is when you go up against the toughest and the best. It is an accelerated learning process compared to picking partners of your own size and skill while rolling and drilling. Andre Galvao mentioned this instinct being strongly present in Keenan Cornellius in Stuart Cooper’s documentary on the latter. The best in the business are always doing it.

Practice mindfulness

This is something that will tie together the rest of the tips presented here. When you are training Jiu Jitsu with so much intensity, concentration and mind work, your brain craves for simple presence oriented moments where it can let go and absorb everything fully. Meditate regularly, preferably at the end of every hard training session and before you end your day. To know specifics of mindfulness techniques, refer to our previous article: How to Set a Winning Mindset for BJJ

Train both Gi and No-Gi

Don’t get caught up in the cult feverish debate of Gi vs No-Gi. It is inconsequential and irrelevant to your growth as a warrior. A No-Gi athlete is usually great at catch wrestling concepts too. A Gi athlete is always using his brains and technical subtleties to put bigger and stronger guys in a choke. Training in both of them will develop different aspects of your art like gripping, controls, submissions, bodyweight distribution and so on. Sure you might like one over the other, but love them equally!

Train in as many different gyms and academies as possible

This is easy to do if you are the traveling warrior kind who just loves to train and get the best experience out of their martial art. It gives you new perspectives, techniques, setups, strategies and moves that you can not even imagine sitting on your couch. Even if you are not traveling the world, visit the gyms nearest to you, you can always take off a weekend to drive to the closest city. Maybe your styles and preferences won’t vary so much in a closed geographical boundary, but the more you meet people and exchange knowledge, your game only improves.

Risk your ego. Compete often

Most people take the complicated mental route of: let me get better first then I will compete. Wrong. You compete, put your ego and pride on the line and let the experiences shape how your progress in your training. Really you don’t lose out on anything but the overinflated ego. What you gain is immense: humility, new teachers, new friends, an open mind among so many other things. So start competing now.

Don’t get stuck in a rut. Shake things up

There will be times when you just are bored of Jiu Jitsu. This is true of any specific activity, especially something as grueling as Jiu Jitsu. The best way to rest your brain other than the mindfulness techniques is to put it into something fun, spontaneous yet challenging. You can go for a hike in the nature, go rock climbing, diving under the oceans, surfing etc. There is no shortage of activities that will challenge you differently yet leave you completely relaxed by the end of it. Also, don’t forget to take care of your chronic injuries while you are taking a break.

Closely observe others

Observe others as they roll and spar. Especially the top belts and your professors in the gym. Try feeling what they might be thinking as they pull off those stunning moves. See how they recover from mistakes without much of a fuss. You will realize there are a lot of technicalities that you might have missed out training on your own. Congratulations, you just turned into the most ideal student a teacher can hope for!

The truth is, everyone hits a plateau in their quest for excellence. It is only natural and is present to make your realize the importance of staying focused and mindful in your journey. To stay focused is not to get tied down to only one strategy but rather learn and implement more strategies, get more options in your training and life. This will ensure your enthusiasm never dies down and the only path you are on is the path of continuous improvement and learning. Glories and accolades will follow.

All the best. OSSS!


  1. Yet another STUPID qutosien, it’s NOT the art that’s a joke, but the TEACHER and the DOJO. Karate is still effective. You just went to a belt factory, that’s all. Also, one style is NOT better than another, some a more suited for some scenarios, i agree HOWEVER, it’s the martial artist that makes the difference, quickness of thought, reflexes and hard workover time to accomplish skillsReferences : Yellow sash kung fu

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